Paddle Now! - Volunteer Opportunities: Swim Support Events
For over a dozen years now, members of the Chesapeake Paddlers Association have been volunteering with swimming events around the Chesapeake Bay area. As kayakers we can offer a unique form of assistance to swimmers in the water. Our fast, quiet, human powered craft can get close to swimmers, safely. We can talk to and encourage swimmers during events, carry provisions during long swims, and even help rescue swimmers who cannot complete an event. Kayaks are often the only craft allowed into the same lanes as swimmers during an event.
In order to inform members about this unique opportunity to help out during swim events and to celebrate the past successes of such events, we have collected here information, contact resources and stories for the various regularly offered swims. Follow the available links to find more contact information for the next scheduled swim events. You can also read about skills and lessons learned from the documents at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay Swim description or from the CPA Online Newsletter section on Swim Supports.
Please note - Swim Supports are volunteer activities that many CPA members participate in. They are, however, not officially sanctioned CPA events.
Various Swim Supports that occur in the Chesapeake Bay area:
- Great Chesapeake Bay Swim Support
- Potomac River Swim Support
- Annual Maryland Swim For Life
- Bud Beatty Memorial Swim
- Washington D.C. Triathlon Swims
- Baltimore Swim Across America
- Columbia Triathlons
Great Chesapeake Bay Swim Support
If you are entering Sandy Point State Park on the morning of June 10th to support the swim as a kayaker, a parking pass is now available please print out this parking pass to give you admission to the park.
During the month of June, the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim event is held. Two swims are held at the same time at opposites sides of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis; a 1 Mile Swim and a 4.4 Mile Swim crossing the Bay under the bridge. Each event has over 600 participants in the water at the same time. Kayak support is essential. The CPA started supporting this swim event over 12 years ago. Since then, hundreds of paddling volunteers have helped to make this the safest and most sought after event of open water swimmers. Come out this year and help us continue the amazing effort!
First off thanks to Dave and Cyndi for coordinating the kayak support yesterday. You did a great job once again. The ultimate gratification came for me when the guy I brought in 4th to last said, "Thanks, I couldn't have made it without you." He had a LOT of trouble getting under the bridge at the last turn against the current and I kept encouraging him to keep trying, that he hadn't come all that way to give up now, just a little further... He finally reluctantly agreed to hang on for just a few minutes and I think that gave him both the positive and negative incentive to keep going. It was a major struggle that he earned for himself stroke by stroke, clearly fighting the inner demons of pain and determination. Once he passed the embankment and I told him he could walk he was so relieved that he had made it. He said " That was my first and last swim - I just wanted to check it off.
-- Peter Cattaneo
Some organizational and informational materials which have resulted from past Great Chesapeake Bay Swim events are available here:
- Options to consider when signing up for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim Support( PDF Document )
- Kayakers Information and Preparation Document for 4.4 Mile Swim (2012 Version)( PDF Document )
- Kayakers Information and Preparation Document for 1 Mile Swim (2012 Version)( PDF Document )
- Safety Fleet Details for 4.4 Mile Swim (2012 Version)( PDF Document )
- Safety Fleet Details for 1 Mile Swim (2012 Version)( PDF Document )
- How to handle a swimmer during the GCBS or any other swim support!( PDF Document )
Potomac River Swim Support
Early in the Month of June, the Potomac River Swim is held. This event is a 7 1/2 mile swim across the mouth of the river. Kayakers support swimmers in a one-on-one scenario. Kayakers are also used as further support and sweep. Volunteers are provided camping in Lookout State Park; dinner the night before; and transportation across the river prior to the swim event start.
Chris [Bresnan - one of the on-water organizers] has taken the job of Kayak Sweep to a new level. Chris and the rest of the "Kayak" Sweeps cruising over to the western side of the Potomac River in style May 30, 2009. Swimmers and escorts with their kayaks are loaded (piled) onto the Skip Jack for the ride over. The Skip Jack is 56 feet long with a an estimated width about 20 feet. 33 swimmers signed up, 24 actually attempted and 21 completed the 7.5 crossing in a well organize and executed effort by Cheryl and Chris.
-- Mark Woodside
Many thanks to all of you who supported the Bay swim. I only swam the 1 mile this year (didn't get selected for the 4.4 mile lottery) but it was so nice to look up while swimming and see many of my CPA friends.
Many thanks also to all of you who supported the Potomac Swim. I am so impressed by the dedication and expertise of the wonderful group who came out. It is so critical to the success of the event to have you there. Each swimmer depends on you for guidance and safety.
Thank you again! .
-- Cheryl Wagner
The Nation's Triathlon Swim Support Events
The Nation's Triathlon Swim and the Washington D.C. Swim events will present racers with a 1 mile swim on the Potomac along the edge of Washington D.C. We kayakers can offer safety support to the swimmers. We will launch from Columbia Island Marina and paddle straight across to the other side of the river where the swimmers will enter the water. Traditionally a practice day is held for the swimmers on a Saturday and the big event is the following day early on Sunday morning. Schwag has always been great for helping out with these events.
These events are excellent opportunities for beginning paddlers or those apprehensive of assisting with support events for the first time. The distance from the put-in to the swim area is not great. The time required is not extraordinarily long, the swims are short, and the area to watch over is not great. Some consider coming out to help. All are welcome. Just make sure you contact the coordinators before or during your time out assisting so that you can be duly rewarded for your efforts.
Swim Support for D.C. Tri is scheduled for June 17th, 2012
Swim Support for The Nations Triathlon is scheduled for Sept 8th, 2013
Annual Maryland Swim For Life
The District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC) hosts the 20th Annual Maryland Swim for Life . DCAC is one of the largest United States Masters Swimming teams and is a 501c(3) organization. This is their 9th year of hosting this community fundraiser.
Proceeds from Swim for Life support a number of small local organizations assisting individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as the Chester River Association, which advocates for the health of the Chester River.
The Swim starts and finishes at Rolphs Wharf Marina on the Queen Anne’s County side of the Chester River, three miles south of Chestertown in Kent County. There are waves of swimmers who will swim either 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 mile along the Chester River. The supporting kayakers will never be far from shore, but support will be needed along a 21/2 mile stretch of the river.
The Bud Beatty Memorial Swim
This event holds a 1 mile and a 2 mile open water swim outside Rocky Point Beach and Park, 2200 Rocky Point Road, Baltimore, MD 21221. This is an open water swim along the shore just above the Back River to the East of Baltimore. Kayak supporters should be comfortable in potentially open water situations. This event sponsors the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness and funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a nonprofit organization.
The Baltimore Swim Across America
The swim will be held at the Waltjen Shedlick Farm near the Gibson Island Yacht Club in MD. Swimmers will have a choice of a 1 mile swim course or a 3 mile swim course. The swim takes place behind Gibson Island south of Baltimore, Md. This is an open water swim event, but appears to have quite a bit of protection from the landscape. Support kayakers should be able to take care of themselves in mild open water conditions with the ability to concentrate on the swimmers well-being.
The Columbia Lake Triathlons
There are three triathlons including a short swim portion taking place in Columbia, Md this season. It is a one mile swim for the participants in a circular course around the perimeter. No waves, no current, and all close to the shore. All types of kayaks are welcome, sea kayaks, SOTs, rec boats.
Swim Support for the Columbia Triathlon is scheduled for May 20TH, 2012
Swim Support for the Celebration Triathlon is scheduled for June 24TH, 2012
Swim Support for the Iron Girl Practice is scheduled for July 28TH, 2012
Swim Support for the Iron Girl Triathlon is scheduled for August 19TH, 2012